Week Sixteen of Your Pregnancy

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Week 16 Info

WEEK 16

Your baby is now about the size of an avocado, weighing about 3 ounces and about 4 inches long.  His legs have finally grown more and caught up with the rest of his body.  He's holding his head up in a more normal position on a more distinct neck and his eyes have moved closer to the front of his head.  Inside, his heart is pumping about 25 quarts of blood each day, and this amount will continue to increase as your baby continues to grow.

The top of your uterus is about half way between your pubic bone and your belly button.  You may be able to feel it when laying flat but you might not be "showing" otherwise.  You may be feeling frequent, sharp stabbing pains in your lower abdomen on either side, especially if you cough or sneeze or roll over too quickly in bed.  If these pains are sudden and associated with movement and resolve fairly quickly than you may be experiencing "round ligament pain".  As the uterus grows, the ligaments that support the uterus to the side walls of your pelvis, are getting stretched and put on tension.  Any sudden movements can cause these ligaments to send shooting pains that can briefly stop you in your tracks.  These pains can be uncomfortable but are causing no harm to you or your baby.  However, if you experience severe pain that doesn't resolve quickly, or is associated with any bleeding, call your provider immediately.

Overall, you might be feeling much better, more energy, less mood swings and less nausea.  We often call this the honeymoon period because the less pleasant side effects of late pregnancy have started yet.  Occasionally, someone feels so good that they become concerned that there is something wrong with the pregnancy since they don't have the reassurance of feeling the baby move yet.  During each visit with your provider you will be able to hear the baby's heart beat and get the reassurance you need that everything is progressing as it should.

Many women find that their allergy symptoms and nasal congestion worsen during their pregnancy.  This is due to some of the hormone changes which can cause the mucus membranes and blood vessels in the nose to swell.  This can also cause occasional nose bleeds, especially if you tend to blow your nose more often.  You can safely use saline nasal spray or saline nose drops as often as needed.  However, avoid nasal sprays or drops that contain a decongestant as these will only cause drying and worsen the irritation in your nasal passages.  A less well know therapy for nasal congestion is nasal irrigation using a Neti pot.  Neti pots have been around for centuries but only recently have they become more mainstream use in the US.  Many ear, nose and throat surgeons recommend that their patients use the Neti pot regularly after sinus surgery.  You can usually find Neti pots and instuctions for their use at local pharmacies and health stores as well as on-line.  Again, since the active ingredient is only salt-water, saline, you can use the neti pot as often as you want.  There is also some connection between nose-bleeds and vitamin-C deficiency so increasing your consumption of vitamin-C rich foods may help.

If you are over 35 or you've had an elevated first or second trimester screen result or have a genetic history "which could affect the fetus", your practitioner may recommend an amniocentesis. This procedure, done between weeks 15 and 18, involves the insertion of a needle through the uterus to remove amniotic fluid. The fluid contains skin cells that have been sloughed off the surface of your baby and can be used to examine your baby‘s chromosomes. An ultrasound is performed during the procedure to ensure the needle does not puncture the placenta or the fetus. Because the cells taken in the sample need to be cultured, the results are typically available between 10-20 days after the procedure depending on your lab.

While less than one in 300 pregnancies may develop a problem which could potentially lead to miscarriage, making sure your technician has experience will help lower these odds further. The test is recommended for moms-to-be age 35 and older because the odds of miscarrying from the procedure are approximately equal to the odds of a woman 35 or older having a child with Down's syndrome. In addition to the many genetic conditions that the test can detect, the gender of the baby can also be revealed with complete accuracy.

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